According to LiveWell Colorado, one in four children in Colorado is overweight or obese.
There are many initiatives across the country to address childhood obesity, and this month is “Kids Eat Right” awareness month, supporting families to Cook Healthy, Eat Right, and Shop Smart
Starting healthy habits early creates a strong foundation for the future. So much so, that starting before your baby is conceived can make a difference.
Research shows that preconception through early childhood are the most critical periods for establishing a healthy weight for kids.
Here are some ways that help kids get off to a healthy start:
Before getting pregnant:
If your weight is healthy before
pregnancy, you have a lower risk of certain medical problems and complications for yourself and your baby during pregnancy.
Pregnancy: Healthy weight gain during pregnancy
also helps prevent medical problems and complications for you and your baby. When weight gain is too low or too high, this may affect your baby’s growth into childhood, including risk for becoming overweight or obese.
If possible, breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months. Then continue breastfeeding along with foods through your baby’s first year of life. The benefits are for both of you
. Return to a healthy weight range gradually and before your next pregnancy
Watch your baby for signs of hunger and fullness
. This helps him/her learn to stop eating when he/she is full and to avoid eating when he/she is not. Overfeeding can occur when bottle feeding, so watch your baby for signs he/she is done.
Toddlers and Preschool Age Children:
Toddler tummies are tiny. They need a combination of 3 meals and 2-3 small snacks
each day to help meet their nutritional needs for growth and development. It is normal for toddlers to eat more on some days or at some meals and less at others. Let them be the judge of how much to eat and remember that their portion sizes are very small in comparison to adults.
Take your child to regular well-care visits with the doctor. This is an important time for you and the doctor to discuss how your child is growing. Aim for 5 fruits and vegetables, 2 hours or more of physical activity, 1 hour or less of screen time, and 0 sugar sweetened beverages each day. Have a healthy sleep routine and environment for your child, including no television in the bedroom.
More ways to be healthy and prevent childhood obesity:
Heather Burchall, MS, RD
RMHP Contributing Blogger
- Be a role model for your children or family members through healthy eating and physical activity.
- Provide support to family, friends, or coworkers that are breastfeeding.
- Bring healthy snacks or foods to potlucks or get-togethers at your child’s school, work, or social events.
- Share your learnings with others—if you have tried a new healthy recipe, post it on Facebook for others to try.